Graphic Design

An actual list of elements and principles of design will vary from resource to resource.  This is not an exhaustive list, however I have attempted to combine and summarize the typical ones here.  In the subsequent pages the goal is to you activities where you get to create something that illustrates each of these concepts.  Feel free to search the web if you want to learn more about these concepts.

Elements of Design

  • Colour or Hue (12 hue model)
    • Primary (R,Y,B), Secondary (G,O,V), Tertiary (in between primary and secondary)
      • Compound (mixture of all three primaries – brown, khaki)
      • Complimentary (opposite across colour wheel)
    • Saturation or Intensity (contains no black or white)
    • Value of a colour or Tone of a colour (tints add white, shades add black)
  • Value (independent of colour)
    • Low Key (mostly dark backgrounds) – nocturnal, dark, secretive, hidden
    • High Key (mostly washed out or light backgrounds) – delicate, dreamy, innocence
  • Line
    • Direction (curved, jagged, implied)
    • Weight (thick, thin)
    • Type (font)
      • Serif
      • Sans-Serif
  • Shape
    • 2D object – Geometric (mechanical) or Natural (organic) – made by enclosed line or in contrast to surroundings
  • Form
    • 3D object – Geometric (mechanical) or Natural (organic)
  •  Space
    • Size – Relationship of areas
    • Negative Space is created around the Positive Space of Form
    • Overlap – gives a sense of depth
    • Shading and Shadows – gives a 3 dimensional feel
    • Perspective – gives a sense of distance  (objects further away appear smaller)
  • Texture
    • Physical or Tactile (rough, smooth, soft, hard, …) is made by the changing the actual medium.
    • Visual or Implied by using techniques to give the impression of texture (example could be a repeating pattern like in a motif).

 

Principles of Design

  • Direction
    • Horizontal (calm and stable)
    • Vertical (alert and formal)
    • Oblique (action and movement)
  • Contrast
    • Use of dissimilar properties
    • Tension
  • Balance
    • Symmetry
    • Asymmetry – attracts attention and feels dynamic
    • Radial Balance – often around a center point
    • Mosaic –  enough elements that what what would otherwise be noisy and chaotic becomes balanced and calm
  • Hierarchy
    • A succession of importance (often greatest to least – for example a pyramid structure)
  • Composition
    • Emphasis, Dominance
    • Focal Points
    • Proportion of elements as arranged
      • Golden Ratio
      • Rule of Thirds
    • Framing
  • Scale or Proportion of elements to each other
    • Smaller than reality
    • Larger than reality
  • Movement
    • The path that the views eyes follow through the graphic
  • Unity or Harmony by visual linking
    • Gestalt theories (psychology of perception)
      • Closure (the way the mind fills in gaps to fill “missing” pieces)
      • Continuance (the eye will tend to continue on in the direction it is moving)
      • Alignment (the formation of lines in the mind in order to organize and group items)
      • Proximity (how items are positioned relative to each other and how this affects the understanding of the graphic)
      • Similarity (what the item looks like to the viewer)
    • Simplicity
  • Rhythm
    • Pattern
    • Repetition vs Variation

 

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